Briefing by Spokesperson for Secretary-General

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27-Jun-2018 00:20:29
Briefing by Stephane Dujarric, Spokesperson for the Secretary-General.

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This morning, the Secretary-General spoke at the 70th session of the Advisory Board on Disarmament Matters. He thanked the Board for their contributions to his Disarmament Agenda, which was launched in Geneva last month, and asked them to further develop recommendations on its implementation. The Secretary-General also asked the Board to consider how to ensure support of Members States and to explore how to build effective partnerships with civil society and experts.

He also attended the launch of the book, “HERstory,” which celebrates women leaders at the UN. He stressed that changing attitudes on gender is one of the most important and difficult challenges, which is why it’s important to have books like HERstory that raise awareness of women’s contributions and help to correct the imbalance in our culture that has historically undervalued women’s contributions and women’s work.

In a statement, the Secretary-General said that the United Nations has verified more 21,000 violations committed against children in 2017. The United Nations has reliable reports of more than 10,000 children killed or maimed in armed conflict last year. The Secretary-General is outraged at this number, a significant increase compared to previous years and documented in his Annual Report on Children and Armed Conflict published today. Children are also affected by other verified violations, including the recruitment and use of children by armed forces and armed groups, sexual violence and attacks on schools and hospitals.

Boys and girls have once again been overly impacted by protracted and new violent crisis. Despite some progress, the level of violations remains unacceptable.

The Secretary-General reiterates that the best way to address this horrific situation is to promote peaceful solutions to conflicts. He calls on all parties to exert maximum efforts in this regard.

The Secretary-General reminds parties to conflict of their responsibility to protect children, in line with international humanitarian and human rights laws. He calls on all parties to conflict to engage with the United Nations to develop concrete measures to end and prevent grave violations against children and to provide support and relief to affected children.

For her part, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict, Virginia Gamba, said that the shows how in too many conflict situations, parties to conflict have an utter disregard for any measures that could contribute to shielding the most vulnerable from the impact of war.

Staffan de Mistura, the Special Envoy for Syria, briefed the Security Council this morning by videoconference, and he said that he is gravely concerned at the turn of events in the country’s southwest, with a full-scale ground and aerial offensive taking place there. He warned that a situation similar to Aleppo or eastern Ghouta could happen once more. He urged all parties to use existing channels to work on arrangements to prevent further human suffering.

He said that we are seeing signs of progress with intensified efforts for the establishment of a Syrian-led, Syrian-owned and UN-facilitated constitutional committee.

John Ging, the Director of Operations for the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, detailed the humanitarian consequences of the fighting in Dara’a Governorate, saying that to date, an estimated 45,000 to 50,000 people have been displaced due to fighting.

He added that humanitarian access in Afrin district continues to improve, while needs in that district are considered to remain high, with most health facilities in rural areas closed.

Martin Griffiths, the Special Envoy for Yemen, visited Aden today and met with President Hadi. He is back in Amman and intends to travel to Oman tomorrow.

While civilians are still moving around Hodeidah City, shops, bakeries and restaurants remain largely closed limiting the availability of supplies in the market.

According to humanitarian partners, basic commodities including wheat flour, vegetable oil and cooking gas have become scarce in markets. Where available, prices of wheat and vegetable oil have increased by about 30 per cent while prices of cooking gas increased by 52 per cent in the last week.

Electricity is unavailable in most areas of Hodeidah City and water shortages are reported due to recent damage to the supply pipes.

Sanitation problems are also reported in some sites for Internally Displaced People, which could trigger a cholera outbreak. Humanitarian partners are repairing the water supply pipes and sewage systems in Hodeidah City to minimize the cholera risk.

In a statement issued yesterday on Mali, the Secretary-General said that he is following with concern the rising toll of intercommunal clashes in central Mali, including the killing of 22 people in the village of Koumaga, in Mopti region, on 23 June. He calls for calm and restraint, and urges all parties to seek a peaceful resolution of differences and reconciliation through dialogue.

The Secretary-General is concerned about reports of human rights violations committed against the population by government forces, including in the village of Nantaka on 13 June. He underlines the need to hold perpetrators of all crimes accountable and to bring them to justice. In that regard, he welcomes the investigations announced by the Malian authorities and the disciplinary measures taken. The United Nations stands ready to assist the authorities. The full statement in online.

Yesterday, the UN mission also expressed concern about grave human rights violations in central Mali. It said that its investigation has concluded that soldiers of the Malian battalion of the G5 Sahel joint force summarily and/or arbitrarily executed 12 civilians in the Boulkessy cattle market on 19 May. The mission has provided its investigative report to the Malian government.

The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said that close to one million people are believed to be displaced in two regions of Ethiopia since early June 2018, due to inter-communal violence.

Authorities in Gedeo registered more than 793,000 displaced, while at least 185,000 are believed to be in West Guji zone, where registration is still limited due to insecurity.

Food has been provided by Government, and emergency shelter and Non-Food Items have been provided by both the Government and humanitarian partners.

Last week, the Government of Ethiopia and humanitarian partners have jointly launched a Response Plan requesting US$117.7 million for the coming six months to deliver immediate life-sustaining assistance and access to basic services to the displaced.

Today is Micro-, Small and Medium-sized Enterprises Day, dedicated to companies which employ fewer than 250 persons. These enterprises are the backbone of most economies worldwide and play a key role in developing countries. However, they face many challenges such as limited access to finance, and the Day encourages countries to foster and facilitate their growth.
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